Iran begins lifting restrictions after coronavirus lockdown

Iran began reopening government offices on Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East, which has killed more than 4,300 people in the country.

Authorities had ordered most government agencies and all non-essential businesses to remain closed for a week after the Nowruz holiday ended on April 4.

Government offices outside Iran’s capital, Tehran, reopened on Saturday with a third of all employees working from home, state media reported.

Women who have young children were given priority in deciding who works remotely.

Businesses outside the capital were also allowed to reopen on Saturday, the first day of the workweek.

Businesses in Tehran will be allowed to reopen next Saturday, provided they register with authorities and follow guidelines on social distancing set out by the Health Ministry.

Government offices in the capital will reopen with two-thirds of employees coming in.

The Health Ministry meanwhile reported another 125 deaths, bringing the overall toll to 4,357. Iran has reported more than 70,000 confirmed cases, and authorities say more than 40,000 have recovered.

For weeks, Iran declined to impose the kind of wide-scale lockdowns adopted by other Middle Eastern countries, even as the number of confirmed cases and fatalities steadily climbed.

The virus has also infected and killed a number of senior Iranian officials.

Authorities have defended their response, saying they have to consider the economic impact of any quarantine measures since the country is under severe US sanctions.


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